Japanapalooza

When Sukiyaki is Not Sukiyaki

Way back in 1963, something very rare occurred. A Japanese song – sung in Japanese – captured the hearts of Americans and made it all the way to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart. It was called “Ue o Muite Arukou,” which means “I Look Up as I Walk,” and it was sung by a famous Japanese singer named Kyu Sakamoto. The song told the story of a guy who was walking around feeling sorry for himself and being oh-so-careful to look up so that his tears wouldn’t fall to the ground. I’ve always been the type, myself, to carelessly allow my tears to litter the sidewalk as I saunter along. But that’s just me.

Oddly enough, the song became even more famous in later years as English singers began singing cover versions of the tune. Along the way, the title was changed to “Sukiyaki” because there was apparently some concern that the original Japanese title would be too hard to remember and/or pronounce. The fact that the song had absolutely nothing to do with sukiyaki, a tasty Japanese beef dish, didn’t deter anyone – which inspired a Newsweek columnist to note that the title change would be equivalent to “issuing ‘Moon River’ in Japan under the title ‘Beef Stew.'”

By the way, if you’re interested in cooking some sukiyaki, this video will teach you how. The instructions are given by a French poodle. Try not to let that distract you.

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2 comments on “When Sukiyaki is Not Sukiyaki

  1. Pingback: For The Weekenders: NoMad Bars, Raising The Roof, Japanese Street Food | Rego's Life

  2. Pingback: Sukiyaki – Kyu Sakamoto | Music of Our Heart

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2013 by in Music and tagged , .
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